Canadian Consulting Engineer

CHAIR’S REPORT: Half the price gives you half the job

Are you a consulting engineer because you like solving technical challenges or because you want to use your technical expertise to run a profitable business? The first scenario allows you to equate "b...

October 1, 2001   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Are you a consulting engineer because you like solving technical challenges or because you want to use your technical expertise to run a profitable business? The first scenario allows you to equate “busy-ness” for business and leads to price-cutting, cost squeezing and staff frustration. The second leads to client partnerships, exciting projects, personal fulfilment and viable businesses.

We at ACEC are intent on helping member firms to enhance their business profitability by encouraging them to sell their services based on value and by improving project remuneration levels. This plan requires ACEC to target two groups to meet these goals: our clients and our own members.

To our clients we will highlight the results of last year’s ACEC Client Survey. In it we learned that our most satisfied clients i.e. those who found high value in our services, were those from the private sector with whom we are involved from the earliest conceptual stages of a project and those who retained our professional services on either a sole-source or on a qualifications basis. It was from this group of clients that industry remuneration levels were also generally the highest. We at ACEC believe that there is a direct correlation between the method of consultant selection, the stage of a consultant’s project involvement and remuneration rates on the one hand, and the quality and value of the professional services rendered on the other.

With our members we hope to reverse the trend of selling our services below cost and begin to market our services based on value. We need to break member firm perceptions that “busy-ness” means business.

To help you think of your business in a different way I remind you of this quote from John Ruskin (1819-1900): “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — it can’t be done.”

In other words if you only pay half the price you will only get half the job.

ANDREW STEEVES, P.ENG., CHAIR

ASSOCIATION OF CONSULTING ENGINEERS OF CANADA


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